Written on 4/03/2009 05:29:00 PM by poison_ivy
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Why can't manufacturers just make a damn phone that actually has EVERYTHING on it. The HTC Dream / Google G1 Phone seems like an answer to my prayers for a 3.2 inch touchscreen phone with QWERTY keyboard but the Android OS and the no auto screen rotation doesn't really do it for me. Now the Vodafone/HTC Magic will be coming to the UK this May and while it doesn't have a QWERTY keyboard, the Cupcake Android OS looks so yummy that it made me want to take a closer look at the device.
The videos posted here of the HTC Magic on YouTube has a pretty good walkthrough/review of the device and all its features so I will be basing my opinion on these videos.
The HTC Magic looks a lot like the white version of the HTC Dream sans the keyboard which makes the former a lot lighter though only a bit thinner. Compared with the iPhone, the Vodafone Magic is a tad thicker though the iPhone a tad wider. The MicroSD slot is again located at the back of the device but compared with the Samsung Omnia, you don't have to take the battery out to insert the memory card.
Compared with similar touchscreen devices from other markets, the HTC Magic has a lot of hardware buttons on its front, a total of five: the call and end button, menu button, home button, back button and a shortcut button to Google search app. The trackball is still there though I would have preferred a directional button.
Features and Performance
I didn't like the HTC Dream that much because it still suffers a lag in its touchscreen interface, plus, like I mentioned, there's no auto rotation though according to its specs, it has an accelerometer. Now thanks to the improved Cupcake Android OS, the HTC Magic has a very smooth interface, even comparable with the iPhone. If you don't believe what I'm saying, check out the video below, skip to 1:28 and you'll see the reviewer comparing the sweeping touchscreen motion on the iPhone and the HTC Magic. See? No lags, very smooth. The only hiccup to the smooth interface of the HTC Magic is that the rotation of the screen when you turn it to landscape mode isn't so smooth and there's a noticeable lag. Hopefully, Google or HTC would be able to address this in the final version of the G2. Another thing that the HTC Magic or Android OS has going for it is that it has a very customizable homescreen. You can add your most used applications on your homescreen and like the Google Desktop, there's a Google search widget that automatically brings up the browser when you type something on it.
Speaking of the browser, thanks to the Cupcake OS, the HTC Magic has a very useable and smooth browser. I definitely like the circular wheel scroll button on the OS which you can use when viewing photos or web pages. Scrolling is as fast and smooth as the Safari browser but Google, being the Internet giant they are, added a very useful add-on aside from the circular scroll wheel for zooming in and out of webpages: a magnifier. You know how on the Opera browser or Safari browser when you zoom out to view the whole page, you have no idea what's written on the page because they give you just a layout of the webpage? Well, in the Android browser, when you scroll through the zoomed out view of the webpage, you can magnify the contents of the page you're scrolling so you don't have to guess where's the about me link or contact link of the website you're visiting. Skip to 5:21 of the video below or 2:44 of the last video below to see the browser in action and you'll get what I mean.
Nice. So, drooling yet? Wait, wipe that drool off your face coz there's more. Since the HTC Magic or hopefully, the Google G2 phone (if this is indeed the follow up to the G1) is an internet device, uploading pictures and videos to the Internet is made so simple that it's like the Internet is part and parcel of the Vodafone Magic. Check out 3:07 of the second video to see how easy it is to upload a picture to Picasa or send it as an attachment to Gmail. Just a tap of the menu button and a 1 tap to the screen and you've already uploaded a photo. How simple is that? With the iPhone and windows mobile devices, you have to go through a lot of menus to attach or upload a photo. The native YouTube app on the Google G2 phone lets you upload your video in no less than 5 button press, check out 4:03 of the second video. It really blows my mind and made me wonder whether the reviewer has uploaded the video previously but since the videos are in Spanish, I can't understand squat.
The other downside that I can see on the HTC Magic is the onscreen keyboard. HTC or Google seems to want to emulate the keyboard of the iPhone with letters jumping up at you when you press it. The problem is that letters jump up EVERYWHERE. Check out 2:01 of the second video when the reviewer is typing his message, it seems that Google doesn't deem it necessary that the letters when they jump up at you, should be near the actual letter that you're pressing and that they should either pop-up at a specific place, either right, left or center. It's a bit confusing especially for me.
Based on what I've seen, the HTC Magic seems like a REALLY solid device. And since we've only seen a pre-production model, expect it to be more refined when Vodafone finally releases it to the public in May. The new Cupcake OS made me rethink my opinion of Android. Just a few more tweaks with the accelerometer and you've got yourself a solid iPhone competitor. Now Google's problem might come when Apple releases an iPhone with QWERTY keypad but the solution is really simple: just place the Cupcake Android on the G1/HTC Dream and I'll readily buy it.